October 30, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s only daily newspaper announced Tuesday that is was being forced to suspend publication as it has been unable to secure the hard currency needed to purchase the paper necessary to continue printing.
- The layout team prepares an edition of The Citizen newspaper, an English language daily, at their offices in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba on January 28, 2011. (Peter Martell/AFP/Getty Images)
The Citizen Newspaper began printing in Juba on 9 July 2011 to coincide with South Sudan’s Independence from Sudan and was established in 2005 by its owner and Editor in Chief Nhial Bol.
Bol revealed that publication will halt on Saturday 4 November in his "straight talk" column.
“The Citizen Newspaper management regrets to announce to its esteemed readers [...] that the paper will cease to [print] issue because of lack of print paper,” partly reads the message on the front page.
The newspaper’s management claimed it had failed to secure the US$30,000 from the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) as it was not approved by the Central Bank of South Sudan. Bol said in his column that a request for the release of the funds was made in July “but until now nothing materialized.”
Neither KCB, nor South Sudan’s Central Bank could be reached for comment. Hard currency has been at a premium in South Sudan, since oil production was halted at the beginning of the year in response to a transit fee dispute with neighbouring Sudan.
The young nation’s economy has been severely affected by the loss of 98% of government revenue that the oil stoppage has caused.
Local media in South Sudan are still struggle to stand on their own as the new country’s independent institutions are starting from scratch.
Radio remains the only source of information for most of South Sudan’s eight million population, as only 27% of the population are able to read.
Poor infrastructure hinders coverage to many towns across the country and the ability for newspapers to be circulated.
South Sudan has many publications but The Citizen Newspaper is the country’s only daily in the country.
According to Nhial Bol, The Citizen Newspaper’s 78 full time employees, 23 contributors and 400 vendors are being forced out of work "as we are forced to cease [publication] by the hard currency shortages.”
South Sudan relies on its neighbours to import all manufactured goods including printing paper, from Uganda in the case of The Citizen Newspaper, creating a high demand for hard currency.
Since oil production ceased in January the country was hit by rising inflation as hard currency became scarce as the consequences of loosing 98% of the government revenue and South Sudan’s main source foreign currency.
As the date to cease publication looms, The Citizen Newspaper, through the editor’s column, appears to be appealing for action from Kenyan Commercial Bank and the South Sudan Central Bank.